I think I just had an epiphany about my running. It seems so obvious to me now that I can’t believe it hadn’t occurred to me sooner. I think I am a much faster runner than I allow myself to be. Sure, I run races, and my race times are fairly consistent, and show gradual improvement. I see other runners sharing runs that are much faster than mine, some of whom don’t put in nearly as much work as I do. And I always ask myself, why not me? Why am I not getting that much faster?
Earlier this week I went out for my marathon pace run, aiming for an average of 9:45 per mile. This is definitely faster than I’ve run for that distance in the past but not fast at all compared to most middle of the pack marathoners. Sure, I am getting faster. For a slower runner. But during my warm up mile, something weird happened. When I checked my pace, I was running 9:39. During my warm up. And it felt easy.
Normally, after my warm up mile, I take a short break and stretch, and let my heart rate come down a little. That day I decided that I would let my warmup count as my first MP mile, and keep going since I felt good. I continued feeling good during my second mile (9:25), and my third mile (9:15). I stopped at the 5K point to save my time of 29:28. Then I began my cooldown mile, and banged out a 9:29.
None of these are blazing fast times, but they are all above my planned pace of 9:45. The thing is, it didn’t feel that hard. Sure I was working harder than I normally do, but I wasn’t out of breath or huffing and puffing, or anything like that. I have had so many slow summer slogs lately that it just felt really good to really run.
I chocked it up to the cooler weather (low 60’s), and knew I was in trouble for not sticking to my marathon pace. After all, I’m coaching Meagan now, and I expect her to stick to her paces. What kind of example am I to not treat my own plan with the same respect?
But what if my paces are wrong? Tonight I realized that I never let myself run as fast as I want to. I’m always sticking to the plan, or running easy to recover, or doing intervals. I never just run free. What if I just ran free whenever I wanted to? What if I am faster? What if running faster more makes me faster?
What if I’m not faster simply because I’ve convinced myself that I’m not?
I guess I’d be an idiot to throw my entire training plan out the window on my 3rd week of marathon training. But I kinda want to.
Because running fast is more fun than running slow.
– Frank Shorter
Or maybe this is all just wishful thinking.